BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff
The Glengarry Fencibles Trust – the non-profit citizens’ group looking to rehabilitate the Bishop’s House in St. Raphael’s – recently received an unexpected donation, but not one of a monetary nature.
“I got an email from Lois MacDonell, secretary of the Clan Donald Society of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland (earlier this year), and she told me that she’d heard from someone who had to move into a smaller residence and wanted to find a place for this etching that she had of Bishop Alexander Macdonell,” Fencible Trust director Brenda Baxter, told The News last week.
After exchanging a number of emails over the course of the summer, The Fencibles Trust was successful in securing the etching – for the cost of its postage – from its owner, Diana MacDonell (no relation to Lois), an elderly resident of Dingwall, Ross-Shire, Scotland. The donated artifact will be professionally-framed and mounted under high-grade glass – by a member of the Fencibles Trust board – and eventually displayed in the Bishop’s House once the site has been restored.
Mrs. Baxter explained that the etching had been given to Diana MacDonell’s late husband by his mother, whose family had been friends with Bishop Macdonell, the first bishop of Upper Canada, and the man for whom the St. Raphael’s home was originally built in 1808. The exact age of the portrait wasn’t known as of press time. However, Mrs. Baxter had been told by Mrs. (Diana) MacDonell that it had been in her family “for generations.”
As for the Bishop’s House, the Fencibles Trust will take ownership of the building on December 2, and subsequently begin the process of fundraising and restoring the more than two-centuries old structure. The project, estimated to cost in the neighbourhood of $2 million, is scheduled to take place in three phases beginning at the end of this year, and be completed by February 2018. For more details about the Bishop’s House project, visit bishopshouse.ca.
Brenda Baxter (left), director of the Glengarry Fencibles Trust, and Glenda McDonell, member of the Friends of the St. Raphael’s Ruins committee, with an etching of Bishop Alexander Macdonell.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENDA BAXTER